KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Ryan Says Critics Of His Budget Need To Offer ‘Credible Alternative’ For Medicare; Opponents Blast Plan As Repeat Of Failed Past Efforts

The Wall Street Journal: The GOP Plan To Balance The Budget By 2023
On Tuesday, we're introducing a budget that balances in 10 years—without raising taxes. How do we do it? We stop spending money the government doesn't have. ... Our budget repeals the president's health-care law and replaces it with patient-centered reforms. It also protects and strengthens Medicare. I want Medicare to be there for my kids—just as it's there for my mom today. But Medicare is going broke. Under our proposal, those in or near retirement will see no changes, and future beneficiaries will inherit a program they can count on. Starting in 2024, we'll offer eligible seniors a range of insurance plans from which they can choose—including traditional Medicare—and help them pay the premiums. The other side will demagogue this issue. But remember: Anyone who attacks our Medicare proposal without offering a credible alternative is complicit in the program's demise (Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., 3/11).

The Washington Post: Paul Ryan's Make-Believe Budget
Ryan is likely to reprise — and even augment — the hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts he proposed last year for social programs. He indicated that he still believes Medicare should be voucherized, although he objects to the word and insists that what he advocates is "premium support." And he asserted that Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor, is "reckless" — even as tea party-approved Republican governors such as Rick Scott of Florida announce their states’ participation (Eugene Robinson, 3/11).

The Washington Post's The Plum Line: What Do You Do When One Party Is This Dishonest?
We're still waiting for a full rollout of House Budget Chair Paul Ryan’s Republican budget, but there's confirmation now that it will once again rely heavily on retaining the Medicare cuts passed in the Affordable Care Act (even as Ryan's budget repeals the rest of the law). Others have noted the hypocrisy at work here. But everyone is under-appreciating just how outrageous this is. For the second time in a row, Paul Ryan and the Republicans have run a national election campaign (the 2012 presidential election) in which the main theme was bashing the Democrats … for a policy which Republicans support -- and indeed are making a key part of the most important policy blueprint that they will roll out this year (Jonathan Bernstein, 3/11).

USA Today: RyanCare, Third Time's No Charm: Our View
Ryan is right to focus on the cost of Medicare, as well as other health care programs funded by government. The programs are popular, but they also are the biggest drivers of federal deficits. The taxpayer's tab for health care has grown from $260 billion in 1993 to more than $1 trillion this year — and is projected to grow by roughly $100 billion per year for the next several years. That's unsustainable, particularly as the Baby Boom generation retires. But Ryan's approach, apparently offered as a bargaining position in upcoming budget talks with the White House and congressional Democrats, is not the way to go (3/11).

USA Today: To Save Medicare, Change The Model: Opposing View
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is proposing important Medicare reforms as part of a 10-year balanced budget plan. He's absolutely right to do so. Medicare is not sustainable in its current form. It costs too much even as the quality of care it provides falls well short of what seniors deserve. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Medicare's costs will reach $1.09 trillion in 2023, up from $551 billion in 2012 (James C. Capretta, 3/11).

Politico: Paul Ryan Budget Plan Is Same Old Trickery
Ryan will undoubtedly once again employ budget gimmicks of the type he and Governor Romney made a hallmark of their economic plan. His past budgets have included lofty rhetoric about deficit savings but very few actual details of how those savings are found. In addition to the Medicare and Medicaid cuts touted in his viral videos, Ryan will once again need to rely on trillions in additional spending cuts (Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., 3/11).

National Journal: Paul Ryan's Obamacare Repeal Fantasy
Democratic reactions to Paul Ryan's past budget proposals have run the gamut from skeptical to hostile to dismissive. Now add one more reason for all of the above: Even though President Obama won the 2012 election, Ryan's new plan to balance the federal budget in 10 years relies on repealing the Affordable Care Act (Jill Lawrence, 3/11).

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